By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has blasted Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his Government as being “arrogant and out of touch” in his last Ard Fheis speech before the General Election.
Mr Martin also attacked Fine Gael for denouncing the policies of the late Brian Lenihan when in Opposition, only to adopt them when they came to power.
“In opposition they voted against every single measure proposed by Brian Lenihan. Then they denounced him - today they try to claim credit for his work," he said.
Continuing his personal attacks on Mr Kenny, Mr Martin said the Taoiseach is a man fond of telling stories about men with pints and the army at ATMs. “But the biggest fairy tale of all is his claim to have delivered recovery”.
Mr Martin said the Government “want a coronation not an election” and his party would campaign to provide “An Ireland for All”.
“This government didn’t deliver recovery - it delayed it and made it more unfair. And it refused to tackle any problem until it became a crisis.”
Mr Martin said Fine Gael’s tax proposals would provide a harsher, more unequal, unjust Ireland. He said it would mean “tax increases for lower and average families and huge tax cuts for the top few percent”.
The leader said: “It means hikes in charges and taxes on water, property, prescriptions, education and other basic items. But even more seriously, it means a major and permanent cut in public services.
“Less for pensions, for schools, for hospitals, for fighting crime, for supporting new business and for every other public service.”
Speaking in Citywest Mr Martin promised Fianna Fáil would be the first political party to have their election promises independently costed.
“We’re going to take a lead and do something no party has done before. We are going to get an independent analysis of our commitments which reviews the accuracy and affordability of our costings and their impact on economic growth,” he said.
“There will be no auction politics. No uncosted promises. No proposals which could damage the economy.”
Mr Martin argued that Fine Gael and “its cheerleaders relentlessly like to push the line that we can’t risk change”.
He told the audience in the Citywest that Fine Gael and the Labour Party introduced 45 new taxes and “ignored the basic the principle of ability to pay”.
He said Fianna Fáil would create decent jobs and support enterprise, while cutting costs for families and improving services.
The party would abolish Irish Water, create a new childcare support, increase rent supplement and expand maternity leave.
Mr Martin said it will increase rent supplement and will use the Strategic Investment Fund to provide for 45,000 social houses.
A help-to-buy scheme will be provided for new home owners, the bankers’ veto will be removed to assist the mortgage arrears and mortgage interest relief will be extended.
Mr Martin said: “On the streets of this city and throughout our country, there are hundreds of people sleeping in doorways and under bridges.
“If there is the money to fund Fine Gael’s massive giveaways to the wealthiest, then there is the money to end this scandal and end the growing homelessness emergency in this country.”
Turning to the centenary of the 1916, he said the Easter Rising had a special role in the foundation of Fianna Fáil.
“They were no narrow nationalists,” he said of the 1916 leaders.
“They demanded that the Republic be democratic and inclusive – and they said that no person could call themselves a republican if they acted with inhumane or debased methods.
“That’s something the sectarian and false republicans of the Provisional movement must never be allowed to forget.”
Mr Martin attacked government warnings that the electorate should not risk change during the recovery.
“The truth is our country can’t risk five more years of this government,” he added.
“We can’t risk more chaos in our public services. We can’t risk massive waste on bodies like Irish Water. We can’t risk the growing inequality. We can’t risk the charge after charge heaped on families.
“We can’t risk more of the arrogance, the refusal to plan, the blocking of political reform, the addiction to telling stories rather than tackling problems.”